Michael Jackson captured the hearts of the world as the little guy from the Jackson Five before catapulting into a chart-topping solo career. Indeed, no one enticed the musical minds of the world quite like the “The King of Pop.”
But despite a historic level of fame — followed by an equally historic fall — many details about Michael Jackson avoided the tabloids. In fact, while this legendary star’s fans might think they know all the secrets their idol left behind, there are some that are only just now being revealed.
1. Childhood abuse: Critics of Jackson harped on the oddity that was Neverland Ranch — the 2,700-acre private amusement park with its own zoo and railroads where Jackson invited young children. But psychologists saw the sad truth behind Jackson’s home…
Jackson revealed to Oprah that, as a kid, he suffered so much physical and mental abuse from his father that he threw up whenever he saw him. Neverland Ranch, then, was likely an effort to recapture a childhood he never got to enjoy.
2. He had vitiligo: Many fans and critics alike wondered how Jackson went from the black boy of the Jackson Five to the light-skinned complexion he had in his later years. Well, Jackson claimed he had a skin condition called vitiligo — which an autopsy confirmed.
3. He wore special shoes: Jackson electrified fans with flawless dance moves like those seen in the video for “Smooth Criminal.” In it, the pop star literally defied gravity by standing at a 45-degree angle. But fans didn’t realize he pulled it off with a trick…
With two partners, Jackson filed for a patent for “Method and Means for Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion.” The method used a pair of shoes with a slot in the heels and a retractable peg on the floor. Hook the slot on the peg, you could lean as far as you wanted.
4. He wanted to play superheroes in films: Jackson famously threw his son a Spider-Man-themed birthday party, and, in the late ’90s, he tried buying Marvel Comics when it filed for bankruptcy. He planned to create a Spider-Man movie starring himself. Well…
As you probably guessed, based on the lack of MJ Spider-Man flicks, the plan didn’t work out, but that didn’t stop him from lobbying for the role of Professor X in 2000’s X-Men. That part was eventually given to Star Trek veteran Patrick Stewart.
5. He planned a Las Vegas revival: In the mid-2000s, fresh off the assault allegations, Jackson mulled over two plans for a Las Vegas Revival. The first was a concert series with brilliant costumes and stage lights. The other?
Jackson met with casino mogul Steve Wynn to pitch an idea for a Michael Jackson themed hotel and casino. To promote these ideas, Jackson drew up a 50-foot robot version of himself that walked around the Nevada desert near the airport.
6. He had deceptive hair: In 1984, two years after the release of “Thriller,” Jackson dealt with a major cosmetic change. See, Jackson signed on to do a Pepsi commercial. Producers wanted the commercial to feel like a live concert…
So commercial crews brought out pyrotechnic machines to spark dazzling explosions. During the sixth take, however, a machine went off too early. Jackson didn’t notice when the explosion ignited his hair — he kept dancing.
Crew members swarmed him and snuffed the flames, but not before Jackson suffered serious burns on his scalp. He was officially bald. The pop star had a hairline tattooed on his forehead and wore wigs for the rest of his life.
7. He never would’ve seen prison time: When Michael Jackson faced serious allegations of child abuse in the early 2000s, Jermaine and the Jackson family — knowing Michael wouldn’t fare well in prison — hatched a last-resort escape plan for the pop star.
Towards the end of the trial in 2005, unbeknownst to Michael himself, Jermaine arranged for a private plane to take Michael to Bahrain were the trial to go poorly. The Middle-Eastern country had no extradition treaty with the United States.
8. He was the maker of his own reputation: In the mid-1980s, tabloids printed bizarre stories about larger-than-life Jackson — like how he tried to buy the remains of “Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick — earning him the nickname “Wacko Jackson.” The strangest part?
Some of the weird stories about Jackson were leaked to the press by the pop icon himself! Eventually, he began to despise the “Wacko Jackson” reputation, but hey — at first, it was kind of his own fault.
9. He owned a monkey: In the early ’80s, Jackson bought Bubbles, a baby chimpanzee, from a primate research facility in Texas. Like a newborn child, the ape followed Jackson closely for years, even joining the pop star at the dining table. Until…
As Bubbles amassed power and strength, Jackson feared he’d hurt his son. He eventually donated his primate friend to the Center for Great Apes in Florida, where the older chimp spent his time painting and hanging with another chimp named Sam.
10. He had a body image disorder: Speculation insists the operations proceeding the Pepsi incident kick-started Jackon’s interest in plastic surgery and painkiller addictions. Between ’84 and ’88 he had at two rhinoplasties and an inserted chin dimple.
Of course, Jackson returned time and time again for more plastic surgeries; he went under the knife so many times doctors speculated he had body dysmorphic disorder — an obsession with every single perceived physical imperfection.
The story of Michael Jackson is one of historic highs and — unfortunately — heart-breaking lows. But no doubt, he was an incredibly talented person.
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